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Walk This Way: 4 Ways to Prevent Aches & Pains

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Attention, walkers: Those annoying aches that arise as you pile on the miles "are your body's red flags that something needs adjusting," says Katy Bowman, director of the Restorative Exercise Institute in Ventura, California. She offers these easy tweaks for instant relief.
The Ache: Lower back pain

The Cause: Tight thigh and hip muscles can cause the lower back to rotate as you stride -- "as in mambo dancing," Bowman says -- so that it, not your legs, bears the impact.

The Fix: Walk a bit with hands on hips as a cue not to twist.

The Ache: Swollen fingers

The Cause: Swinging your arms repetitively pushes blood into your hands, causing them to swell.

The Fix: As you walk, periodically make a fist and release several times, stretching your fingers out.

The Ache: Tingly feet

The Cause: Too snug sneakers and tight calf muscles can restrict blood flow to the toes.

The Fix: Make sure you can fit one finger between the laces and the tongue of your shoe. Stretch your calves before and after your workout: Stand with the balls of your feet on a rolled-up towel, keeping your heels on the ground. Lean forward to find any tight muscles.

The Ache: Sore knees

The Cause: Leaning your upper body forward while walking -- "a common misalignment," Bowman says -- places more stress on your knees.

The fix: Straighten up; your head and shoulders should be in a line over your hips.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, November/December 2010.

Walk This Way



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